A few words of explanation to those who are new to Janonlife and haven’t been following the LIME story…
Last year I took a huge step into the unknown and bought an empty, ruined shell of a place – against the advice of many, I might add – because, despite the collapsed ceiling, the cracks in the walls, the leaking roof and the rats, it felt like home in some strange way.
Owning an ancient cottage had always been a distant dream, although I have to admit, my reveries had revolved around buildings with a little more superficial charm than this one at first presented. It was an ugly dung brown colour with peeling paintwork and an unpleasant 1950s extension at the back. A neglectful landlord had literally left it to rot over many years.
The first six months of 2014 were taken up with structural surveyors, planning officers, solicitors and insurers. Not fun.
The next three months revolved around electricians, carpenters, plumbers and builders. The cottage was encased in scaffolding; the garden was lost under ever-expanding piles of builders’ rubbish and I was hiding somewhere inside amongst the dark and dust. Drilling, hammering and inane banter on tinny radios had become the backdrop to my everyday life.
I’m not pretending it wasn’t stressful and difficult, but I was kept together by the kindness of others and the endless synchronicities and small miracles that took place. I adopted the belief that Life Is Miracles Expected, which is how the cottage earned its name. I found that I needed only to focus on a desired outcome to any situation, and the resolution would be perfect. The cottage’s main gift to me has been to enable me to see the whole of LIFE that way.
In mid autumn, the workmen drifted away and the cottage and I finally had the chance to bond.
“Well, at least you’ve got a blank canvas,” a friend remarked grimly, when he looked around. True. I’d never tackled solo decorating before, but having started on the tiny pantry and been pleased and surprised with the result, my confidence started to grow and I moved on to work on whole rooms.
I know my limits, and have a loyal, friendly band of workmen/handymen to draw on when a task is beyond me, but those limits of mine have grown fewer as I’ve mastered new skills.
When a man arrived yesterday to dismantle and freecycle an unwanted wardrobe, I was able to offer him the use of my power screwdriver.
“That’s a tidy little piece of kit,” he told me, as he finished.
Even drilling holes in the 350 year old stone walls no longer holds fears for me (well not many, anyhow).
This week a specialist lime plasterer is coming to give the upstairs walls a new spring coat in traditional style. Then I’ll be back to the paint catalogues, vintage furniture boutiques and charity shops to begin the next stage.
I suspect it will be never-ending. I hope so, because despite the costs and the effort involved, I’m loving the creative process of renovating Lime Cottage, and I feel that the cottage is enjoying it too.